The AP reported that a nursing home resident who had been in Morningside of Gastonia for a few days and wanted to get out has died after falling from a second-story window.  Nellie Holand warned the staff that she wanted to leave but for some reason she had access to an open window on the second floor of the building.  Employees were looking for Holland around 10:15 p.m. when they found her outside the building. Paramedics say she died at the scene.

Why wasn’t she supervised?

Ohio’s WBNS-10TV reported illegal drugs were discovered in a vending machine inside the Heartland-Fairfield Nursing Center. Fairfield County sheriff’s investigators believe it’s LSD, a hallucinogenic drug.  The Heartland-Fairfield Nursing Center released a statement to 10TV, saying they perform drug screenings on all employees and don’t believe employees or patients were in danger at any time.

 

The West Virginia Record reported the lawsuit filed against Genesis Healthcare Corporation and related entities after the negligent treatment of Charles Young causing catastrophic injuries, disfigurement, extreme pain, suffering and mental anguish.  On Feb. 3, 2011, Charles Young was admitted to Heritage Center, where he remained a resident until April 19, 2011.

“The scope and severity of the recurrent wrongs inflicted upon Young while he was under the defendants’ care accelerated the deterioration of his health and physical condition beyond that caused by the normal aging process and resulted in physical and emotional trauma including aspiration pneumonia, pressure sores, urinary tract infections and malnutrition, according to the suit. The defendants failed to take reasonable steps to prevent, eliminate and correct deficiencies and problems in resident care, according to the suit.”

 

Authorities are investigating the death of a 104-year-old woman they say had been neglected by her son. Demetra Leventis was found at her Spartanburg home lying in her own feces and had fist-sized bed sores filled with maggots.  Leventis was hospitalized for an infection, and later died.  Her 63-year-old son, George Leventis, was arrested and charged with neglect. 

This type of neglect is common in nursing homes but no one ever gets arrested for neglect.  Sad.

The Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors in New Jersey have accused six men — including former executives at pharmaceutical company Celgene Corp. and medical-technology firm Stryker Corp. and some of their high-school friends — of passing corporate secrets about their companies and using that information to make profitable trades during a five-year insider-trading scheme. The scheme allegedly began in 2007, involved 11 corporate announcements and resulted in more than $1.4 million in illicit profits.

 

The New Mexican reported the wrongful death lawsuit filed against Casa Real Nursing Home in Santa Fe by the son of a woman who died from a bacterial infection that resulted from bed sores.  According to the complaint, Antonia Tanuz was known risk for pressure ulcers before her admission, and should be put on an air bed and turned every two hours.  These protocols were not followed.  On Dec. 24, 2009, Tanuz became unresponsive and was readmitted to the hospital. There she was found to be incontinent, with a urinary tract infection, a kidney infection and a pressure ulcer on her coccyx (tailbone).

“After five days, Tanuz was transferred back to Casa Real with warnings that she was to be given treatment to prevent the sore from becoming worse. But when family members picked her up for a doctor’s appointment at the hospital, they found her lying in bed with garments and sheets soiled with urine and feces, says the complaint.”

“When Antonia’s family complained to the nursing staff, they were told that there were only two persons there to care for 30 persons and they simply did not have the staff to attend to her,” according to the complaint.

After several weeks of poor care, Tanuz died at Casa Real from a bacterial infection.

 

The Daily Beast had an interesting blog article about Norovirus from Dr. Kent Sepkowitz profiles the hardy and extremely transmissible virus that each year hits Americans with nausea, diarrhea, fever, and aches all over.
“These little round viruses, though, have proven all too hardy and extremely transmissible. Able to survive hours on surfaces such as door handles and desk tops, norovirus is now known to cause 23 million episodes of stomach and intestinal misery a year, resulting in 65,000 hospitalizations.

“Though it makes a person extremely uncomfortable for a day or two, it seldom is life-threatening—only 300 people die annually of the infection, usually the already frail elderly, for whom dehydration may prove fatal. Norovirus’s secret is simple: It takes only the tiniest amount of ingested virus to get sick: about 20 virus particles seem to do the trick.”

” Symptoms usually develop a day or two after exposure, and hit suddenly and fiercely, then stick around for 24 or 48 hours. Typical is nausea and vomiting at the start, progressing to bad, though not life-threatening, diarrhea. Maybe a little fever, maybe some aches. Mostly people want to curl up and be left alone to die, but after a while suddenly realize a bite of that cold spaghetti wouldn’t taste so bad.“

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Norovirus in nursing residents are critical to prevent dehydration and death.

California Watch reported that a recent lawsuit claims that State regulators allow nursing home companies to siphon money away from patient care to pad corporate profits. Russ Balisok brought the suit seeking to invalidate parts of state law that allow nursing facilities to contract out their own management. The suit targets Country Villa Health Services, which runs a chain of 50 skilled nursing and assisted-living facilities throughout California.  The strategy is to attack the industry’s business model including state-approved agreements in which Country Villa homes contract out their operations to another Country Villa entity. The management company gets a percentage of revenues from the homes it operates.  Balisok contends that the management company doesn’t actually run the facilities and instead consumes money needed to care adequately for patients.

The companies that collect the management fees aren’t focused on improving patient care at nursing homes, said Charlene Harrington, UC San Francisco professor emerita of nursing and sociology. They monitor the homes mainly to cut costs and maximize revenue, she said. “I think it’s a serious problem because they spend so little on the actual care,” she said. “They’re grossly understaffed, so the care is terrible and these management fees just contribute to the problem.”

The plaintiff in the lawsuit is California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, a San Francisco-based organization. Prescott Cole, senior staff attorney with the group, said the government money that pays for many nursing home patients through Medicare and Medi-Cal should all go to patient care.

“It’s just their way of taking 5 percent off the top and leaving the nursing home with insufficient resources so that nursing homes limp along with poor care for patients,” he said. “I want the 5 percent back.” Federal law prohibits nursing homes from being operated by outside companies and that federal statute trumps state rules. The government funding, he said, “is the bare minimum. So if you get the bare minimum and you’re skimming off the top, you’re really impacting the care that should be given to the individuals.”

 

Just last week, hidden cameras caught the abuse of a South Carolina man at Mount Pleasant Manor, caused two nursing employees to be arrested for abuse in Pennsylvania, and recorded abuse in Oklahoma City.  Each of these cases higlight the need and benefit of hidden cameras.  Clearly with the lack of adequate staffing in most nursing facilities causing burnout, frustration, and abuse, there is a need for families to place hidden cameras in their loved one’s rooms to prevent abuse and neglect that is common in the industry. The industry will claim privacy concerns and cost but the real reason is that the facilities want to hide the daily abuse and neglect.

 

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New technology options including in-home robots will help keep vulnerable adults from nursing homes.   Rethink Robotics sells Baxter, an industrial robot, for $22,000 and could be adapted for new markets including geriatric care. Speaking at the Techonomy Conference last week, ReThink’s founder Brooks said:

“I think absolutely elder care is going to be an incredible pull on automation technology, because people want to stay in their homes longer, and the demographics is much more older people. This, by the way, is true in China now too. You know, a young Chinese person now has two parents and four grandparents who don’t have anyone else but that person.”

So there’s … going to be a real pull for how technology lets people be independent longer. And I’m hoping that someone will come up with some provocative things with Baxter for that.”

New research out of Georgia Tech shows that acceptance of in-home robot help among older people may be growing. Researcher Cory-Ann Smarr said a survey of 21 people between the ages of 65 and 93, showed them open to using robots for some tasks.

Most of the respondents were proficient users of cell phones, recordable and programmable devices like thermostats and coffee makers. Most (71.4 percent) said they used a computer so these respondents were not tech neophytes and may not be typical of older seniors in the broader population. Recent Pew Research on smartphone ownership found that just 11 percent of adults over the age of 65 have smartphones, compared to 34 percent of those aged 50 to 64 year.

Given the economics of aging, the option of staying in a home that’s paid for versus selling that home to pay for facility living is attractive. Since assisted care facilities can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 per month, the notion of buying a $22,000 robot — assisted at times by human helpers — might make financial sense.